Police Drones against Protesters: the “Machine Imperative”

Saturday, April 11, 2015
By Paul Martin

By Binoy Kampmark
Global Research
April 10, 2015

“I predict that we will see a whole new wave of UAVs emerging with payloads more unusual than tasers, dart guns and paintball guns.” – Guy Martin, editor of Defence Web, BBC News, Jun 18, 2014

Innovation, Edmund Burke reminds us in “A Letter to a Noble Lord,” does not necessarily imply reform. While the peaceful uses of drones are often treated as the benign effects of the security industrial complex, the spill over into more violent deployments has proven unavoidable. What is done in Waziristan against Taliban militants will eventually be done to US citizens on a smaller yet significant scale – the civilian cloaking there becomes as irrelevant in tribal foothills as it does on the streets of Chicago.

The drone monitors have gotten excited by an announcement that Indian police forces will be making use of drones to deploy pepper spray against protesters. Trials were conducted on Tuesday in Lucknow, with the city’s police force anticipating using five such vehicles later this month. “The results,” claimed the jubilant police chief Yashasvi Yadav, “were brilliant. We have managed to work out how to use it to precisely target the mob in winds and congested areas.”[1]

The language used by Yadav serves an important purpose. Drones are weapons of use against that dark, primordial “mob,” difficult to control, unruly of purpose. From the perspective of many state authorities, any protesting group constitutes an unruly “mob”. The idea of a peaceful protest is nowhere to be seen, the greatest of unnatural phenomena. But Yadav insists that, “Pepper is non-lethal but very effective in mob control. We can spray from different heights to have maximum results.”

Controlling protests via the use of drones is at the forefront of new policing technologies, be they used by private entities or more conventional police forces. It is certainly interesting weapons manufacturers, who are lining up their customers. South Africa-based Desert Wolf is one example, telling the BBC in June last year that it had secured the sale of 25 “riot control copters” that would deal with crowds “without endangering the lives of security staff.”[2]

As is the habit of those in the business of providing such weapons, benevolence accompanies the authoritarian, somewhat murderous streak. Using such weapons against dissenting citizens will save, rather than inflict, the loss of life. According to Desert Wolf’s managing director Hennie Kieser, “We cannot afford another Lonmin Marikana [where striking miners were killed] and by removing the police on foot, using non-lethal technology, I believe that everyone will be much safer.” All this, despite the obvious point that using pepper spray, or firing projectiles from the air, can constitute lethal forms of action.

The Rest…HERE

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